Too cheap to meter
What a shambles the once preening, over-hyped nuclear industry now is. Claims that it would offer a carbon free, sustainable future for UK energy supply now appear in tatters, as yet another prospective power station builder pulls out. There is of course one way of reducing the prohibitive costs of building new nuclear – simply reduce the safety regulations! Strip away the safeguards, accept lower standards and hey presto, companies will flock in. Or possibly as an alternative (almost certainly to become this government’s choice) ramp up the subsidies. As the cost of renewable energy sources have dropped by 60%, the cost of nuclear continues to rise. It’s time our hapless government ramped up support for green energy, now that it is clear nuclear is less and less affordable.
There are other ways we can secure extra energy supplies of course. Ironically, one of the biggest will be building more interconnectors to tap into the European network. And in the short term we will import more LNG, as North Sea gas diminishes. Despite the massive growth in UK offshore wind generation, which I applaud (one of the few things this government hasn’t completely fucked up) I lament the opportunity cost of nuclear. It has been a distraction which has us cost dearly. It is a product of the asinine idea – long (sadly) touted by Labour in the 2000s – that ‘governments don’t pick winners.’ The chickens are coming home to roost, but perhaps it’s still not too late to shut the stable door before the horse bolts.
Oh, and just as an illustration of the nuclear success story, take a look at progress on the project to build a third reactor at Olkiluoto, Finland. I visited the site around 2008 (building started in 2005) and then they thought there might be delays. It was supposed to be finished in 2009, but now they're saying it will be 2020. The original cost was to be £3 billion. Currently, it stands at around £9 billion.
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